Marijuana legalization ballot drive is certified

Published: Apr. 26, 2018 at 5:40 AM EDT
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Michigan's elections board says organizers of a ballot drive to legalize marijuana for recreation use collected enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

The Board of State Canvassers' ruling Thursday means the measure will first go to the Republican-led Legislature. Lawmakers could enact it or let it proceed to a statewide vote.

Josh Hovey, a spokesperson for The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, said staff at the Secretary of State's Office estimates that out of the 365,000 signatures they collected last year from registered voters, 277,000 are valid. 250,000 are needed to get approved for the November ballot.

Hovey said legalization will benefit the state in many ways, but one Senator is not too sure.

"We'll generate 100's of millions of dollars of tax revenue for the state of Michigan that will go to our roads, our schools, and our local governments," Hovey said.

"What about all of the young people that will smoke marijuana and then can't pass the drug test so they won't be able to get a really high paying job? There are so many people out there that need good jobs. I hate to see them held back by using marijuana," said Sen. Rick Jones, (R) Grand Ledge. Jones said that chances of the House and Senate passing the recreational marijuana initiative is slim, and the voters will most likely be left with the decision.

The elections board has deadlocked 2-2 on whether to certify initiated legislation that would repeal a law requiring higher "prevailing" wages on state-financed construction projects. Republicans voted to approve the measure Thursday, while Democrats voted against after labor unions raised concerns over circulators' addresses. If courts order the measure to be approved, it would first go to the Republican-led Legislature. Legislators could enact it or let voters decided in November.

Trade unions urging the board to reject the anti-prevailing wage proposal say paid circulators improperly listed addresses where they do not live. No group is challenging petitions submitted by marijuana backers.